Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Drivers who use cell phones while driving more likely to break other laws of the road


January 29, 2013

My son had the opportunity to take driver’s education this summer and as a parent, I feel the best thing he learned is that having a cell phone nearby while driving should not be tolerated and is not tolerated at Defensive Driving School.

Before the students get into the car to drive the instructor requires that they put their cell phones out of reach, usually in the trunk of the car.

I am finding that I should probably follow suit. While I never text while driving I am often tempted to answer my phone when it rings, even though I know that it is against the law in the state of Washington.

I consistently see other drivers talking on their cell phones while driving as well.

AAA conducted a survey of almost 4,000 American drivers 16 years old and up and found out that drivers who text or talk on their cell phone while driving are more likely to disobey other laws of the road.

So far, 39 states as well as Washington D.C. have laws prohibiting texting while driving. The remaining states are being strongly encouraged by AAA to do the same.

The most upsetting part of this survey is the fact that many of these drivers don’t just talk while driving, they also speed more often.

Here are some of the findings in the AAA survey:

• 65 percent also reported speeding;

• 44 percent also reported driving drowsy;

• 53 percent also reported sending a text or email;

• 29 percent also drove without a seatbelt.

Conversely, drivers that reported never using a cell phone were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors:

• 31 percent reported speeding;

• 14 percent reported driving drowsy;

• 3 percent reported sending a text or email;

• 16 percent drove without a seatbelt.

“What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs. “These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities.”

It is a proven fact that drivers already have too much distraction when on the road between kids, other drivers, lack of sleep, road work and even listening to the radio.

Drivers need to become more responsible when it comes to their cell phones, something that the driver can control.

Over 3,000 people lose their lives each year due to distracted drivers according to the National Highway Safety Administration, or NTSB and close to 500,000 people are injured by them.

As my son prepares to go out on the road without adult supervision, I am concerned for his safety. I only hope that he remembers the lessons he was taught at Defensive Driving School about cell phone use and that he obeys his parents when we tell him to turn it off or no driving will be allowed!


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